Caviar Provençale

Eggplant, Lemon, and Garlic Purée

This refreshing, piquant purée is served on toast as an appetizer. It also makes a wonderful dip: Place it in half a scooped-out raw eggplant or in a brightly colored bowl and surround it with 2-inch sticks of cucumbers, fennel, celery, and carrots, along with whole white radishes and cherry tomatoes, or with potato chips. It is delicious served with a vermouth or chilled white wine.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggplants (about 1 pound each)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion or parsley or basil or anchovies Croutons

Method

Heat the broiler and turn it down to low. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Place them 2 inches below the flame for about 50 minutes, turning once. When they become very soft, scoop out all the flesh (discard skins). Remove the seed strips and press the pulp through a Mouli food mill into a bowl. Add the garlic. Slowly beat in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt (a fair amount is needed, so taste to make sure), and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

To serve, sprinkle with chopped onion, basil, parsley, or anchovies. Prepare triangular croutons and arrange them around the bowl along with raw vegetables or potato chips.